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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Scott Sizemore is finally freed

Rumors were swirling Monday night that Scott Sizemore might have earned the call-up from Triple-A Toledo after last year’s Opening Day starter at second base for the Tigers last season was a healthy scratch for the Mud Hens’ game vs. Pawtucket.

Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski confirmed the move — calling Sizemore up, and optioning Will Rhymes down — after Monday’s game. Sizemore was leading the International League with a .408 average, while Rhymes was hitting just .221 after the weekend.

"As you know, we’ve been scuffling from an offensive perspective, and Sizemore’s been hitting very well ... We figured it was a way to get a little more pop in the lineup, maybe get some extra-base hits and try to get things going at the top of the order for us," Dombrowski said.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland was quick to point out that the struggles of the Tigers' offense — which include leadoff man Austin Jackson hitting just .188, and No. 3 hitter Magglio Ordonez posting an anemic .151 average, a slugging percentage of .164 and just one lone RBI — are not all the fault of Rhymes, normally the No. 2 hitter.

“Sometimes, you’re the victim of a situation of ... you’re not really tearing it up — and we didn’t really expect him to — but sometimes you’re the victim of a situation where a few guys aren’t hitting, and he’s a second baseman, and the guy who’s hitting .400 is a second baseman. So, it’s not like Will Rhymes did so bad,” Leyland said. “I certainly don’t want to indicate to anybody that we’re blaming all of our offensive woes on Will Rhymes. That’s not the case. The case in this matter is, we’re looking for a little punch. ... So he kind of caught the short end of the stick, to be honest with you.”

As highly anticipated as the move has been — there was a populist movement to "free Scott Sizemore" on Twitter — it won't be the cure-all to a team that's struggling in all aspects of the game.

And it might not be the only move coming. Victor Martinez, who will resume his role as the primary DH, is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday. His return will mean that Ordonez will either have to spend more time in the outfield, or possibly sit for a while. Leyland noted after Monday's game that Ordonez could be moved down in the order at times, or out of it.

Sizemore's promotion to the big club will also mean that Ryan Raburn will spend most of his time in the outfield again, rather than splitting his starts between left and second base. That, too, would indicate that Ordonez might be destined for some time off, since Leyland's more likely to leave Brennan Boesch (.300) in the lineup, as either the right fielder or DH.

Finally, Phil Coke's solid start against the Indians — more reminiscent of his first two starts of the season than his last two horrible outings against Seattle — may have staved off the conversations about moving him back to the bullpen, at least for now.

But if he begins to struggle again, it will be hard for Leyland and Dombrowski — both men in the final year of their current contracts with the Tigers — to ignore the seasons that young lefties Andy Oliver (3-1, 3.64 ERA, 31 K/29.2 IP) and Charlie Furbush (2-1, 1.90 ERA, 32 K/23.2 IP) are putting together in Toledo.

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